Sony E 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS (SEL-55210) - Review / Lens Test - Analysis
Lens Reviews - Sony NEX

Distortion

The 55-210mm OSS exhibits a slight to moderate degree (0.9-1.8%) of pincushion distortion throughout the range. This is fairly unusual - most lenses show switch between barrel (at the wide end) and pincushion distortion (at the mid to long tele end).

Move the mouse cursor over the focal length text marks below to observe the respective distortion
55mm 135mm 210mm

Vignetting

The light falloff at large apertures is quite pronounced (1-1.4EV) - especially at 55mm but also at longer focal lengths. Stopping down by about 1 stop reduces the issue to a very moderate degree though.

MTF (resolution)

The lens is certainly not flawless but unlike some other E lenses it is at least capable of delivering decent results on the NEX 7 @ 24 megapixel. The center performance is generally very good throughout the zoom range with a slight but rather typical decrease towards the long end. The border results are pretty good at 55mm but expect some corner softness at f/4.5. There's also a noticeable degree of field curvature here (curved focus field rather than a flat one). The border/corner region is somewhat soft at 135mm & 210mm at max. aperture. Stopping down to f/8 is advisable to boost the border quality to good levels and also to lift the contrast.

The centering quality of the tested lens was good for an OSS lens.

Below is a simplified summary of the formal findings. The chart shows line widths per picture height (LW/PH) which can be taken as a measure for sharpness. If you want to know more about the MTF50 figures you may check out the corresponding Imatest Explanations

Chromatic Aberrations (CAs)

The latest Sony E lenses struggled somewhat regarding the amount of lateral CAs (color shadows at harsh contrast transitions). The 55-210mm OSS doesn't deliver a very strong performance here but it's not quite as bad as on the 18-55mm OSS for instance. Nonetheless CA will be noticeable with an average pixel width of ~1.6px at 55mm up to ~2.2px at 210mm.

Bokeh

The bokeh defines the quality of the out-of-focus blur - this relates to the general rendition (smoothness) in the focus transition zone as well the the character of out-of-focus highlights. The lens has a very slow max. aperture so we didn't test this aspect formally in the lab. However, based on the field images that we've seen it is fairly obvious that the bokeh is somewhat nervous. This is especially true for highlights which show an onion-like sub-structure. See also the example crop below:




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